Finally ready to take that vacation? Have a wedding or social event that your pup can’t attend with you? It might be time to start looking for a pet sitter for your best friend. While you might have concerns about finding someone to provide your pet the same level of love and care that you do, fear not. We will teach you how to find the right person for the job.
Where to find the best dog sitter:
1. Word of mouth
The reason we have word of mouth listed as number one on our list is that it really is the best way to find a pro. Asking your friends in the area who they use can be a great way to find the best sitters in the area -- as well as the ones to avoid. When asking for recommendations, its okay to be a little specific. Finding out what someone liked about a sitter, for example “she came on time, left the house immaculate and my dog seemed to adore her,” and what they didn’t can give you a lot of insight into what the sitter is like.
2. Local doggie daycare facilities
Some local doggie daycares may also offer night and weekend pet sitting in their facility or your home, so it’s a great place to ask. Reputable daycares will offer training in dog body language and animal first aid so these sitters may be more qualified. Another important consideration is that when using a professional, they may carry additional liability insurance to cover any issues or accidents. Make sure to ask so you understand what is covered and what is not.
3. Pet stores
People who work in the industry generally know each other. Whether it’s because the sitters are also pet owners, or because they are constantly popping into the shop to grab extra poop bags and treats, most pet store employees know the local sitters pretty well. Cozy up to your favorite pet store employee and get the scoop! You also might learn that some of these employees pet sit on the side. If this is someone your dog already knows and likes, all the better!
4. Dog trainers
Like pet store employees and daycare workers, dog trainers may also have the scoop on the best local sitters. Some trainers or training companies may offer pet sitting services or even train and board. This would allow your dog to get in some dedicated training time while you’re away. From problem behaviors like begging and demand barking to the more athletic endeavors like agility or competitive obedience, there is a combo trainer/sitter that is right for everyone.
What to ask potential dog sitters:
1. Describe your experience?
Your ideal sitter should have plenty of experience with dogs of the same age and size as yours. Having a sitter who has only ever watched dogs under 15 pounds take care of your great dane, might mean some learning curve!
2. Have you ever…?
Ask your pet sitter about if or how they have handled common scenarios. These might include have you ever had a pet need medication? Have you ever had a pet need to go to the emergency room? What did you do if a pet you were sitting got sick in the middle of the night. An experienced and reliable pet sitter will have plenty of good stories about what they’ve done in these situations and how they have cared for other pets.
3. How do you walk my dog?
You will want to ask the pet sitter how often and where they will walk your dog. Ensure that your dog isn’t being walked in a pack with other clients pups if that is not something you are okay with. You also want to make sure your sitter plans to walk your dog on as close as possible to their regular schedule if you are paying for in home overnight service.
4. Do you have any rules for clients?
Some pet sitters may require a certain type of harness for walks or have requirements for emergency contacts being within a certain area. They may also require authorizations for emergency veterinary care. Whatever the rules your pet sitter has, make sure they are in place to protect your pup!
5. Can you provide references for past or current clients?
Getting testimonials and speaking with other clients is a great way to determine if your potential sitter is a good fit. Hearing other pets are excited when the sitter comes or that the sitter goes above and beyond to care for other animals may help put your mind at ease.
How to set your sitter up for success:
Once you have chosen your sitter, make sure to prepare thoroughly for their vist. Even the best pet sitters aren’t mind readers so here are a few things you can do to get ready for your sitter:
1. Leave detailed instructions
Before you go write out detailed instructions about your dog for the sitter. What time do they usually get up. When do they get meals and how much food? Does the sitter need to know anything else about your dog’s schedule? You may even want to let your sitter know about favorite toys or even bad habits like begging or stealing socks. If your dog uses certain commands or cues, let your sitter know about those too.
2. Bag individual meals or leave easy to follow instructions
Make mealtime a breeze with pre measured portions. Label each one (ie - Saturday breakfast) with the correct meal so your sitter can easily see that they have enough food. Feel free to leave an extra in case of emergency.
3. Provide any medications your pup takes
Leave medication with instructions by your dog’s food. If you use pill pockets or peanut butter to hide meds, also leave that out for your sitter. If you use cheese or something refrigerated, let your sitter know, and clearly label it in the refrigerator.
4. Leave contact info and check in as needed
In your detailed instructions, make sure to leave your cell phone number, the phone number where you are staying and emergency contacts. You should also leave the name and phone number of your vet and any emergency room facility, should your pet need care after hours or in a true emergency. This will help the pet sitter get the situation under control more quickly and will ensure that in an emergency your pet is seeing people they know and trust if possible.
Make a plan to check in with your sitter - maybe ask for a morning text or some photos throughout the day. Or plan to call in the evenings after dinner. This way you have regular contact with your sitter and they can ask questions as well as putting your mind at ease.
Leaving your pet in the care of someone else can be stressful. But, with these steps for screening pet sitters you can rest assured that your pup will be in good hands while you are gone.
The Ollie blog is devoted to helping pet parents lead healthier lives with their pups. If you want to learn more about our fresh, human-grade food, check out MyOllie.com.